Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa and Mrs. Claus

My neighbors look identical to The Claus' up north.

At the end of each summer 'Santa'begins to grow out his white beard just in time for the holidays and his wife, of course, simply wore her beautiful snow white hair in the usual done up way.

The two of them have costumes to wear around this time of year. Not cheesy, mall type Santa Claus outfits, but real white fur outlining just the right red colored suit for Santa. A black leather belt with a nice gold buckle. I have no idea where he got the charcoal boots but they are perfect. He even had a matching soft velvet sack. Mrs. Claus wears a green velvet skirt, white shirt and with her milky white complexion and rosy cheeks, she looks as cute as a gingerbread cookie.

They are the real deal. However, this year is different because Mrs. Claus has cancer.

We have gotten used to not seeing them because they had been gone on a mission. But after they had returned home the cancer took over within a short time. You don't expect that sort of thing- I guess I don't. They had been healthy, had served and you simply expect that you get some sort of temporal reward. Not cancer. It seems unfair. Although I know God has his reasons it is still difficult to understand.

It is even more difficult to know what to say to people, or do when they experience something so huge and you want to somehow bare their burden with them. Alleviate the pain somehow. But often the only thing you end up doing is thinking about them. Praying of course. But mainly wondering a lot. At least I do.

When my son mowed the lawn, I felt bad because I knew that the noise hurt her body. So in the uncertainty of NOT knowing what to do, I seemed to back off with my interactions. Whenever they would be out going to Dr.s appts. my initial reaction was to run up to her and talk but I figured that would make her tired so I settled with a wave and almost felt guilty for it.

Odd, isn't it? Maybe it is simply a way for reverencing life? I'm not sure.

Now her time is becoming shorter, and it is a special time of year, especially for the two of them, I am remembering the things that I wanted to say to her and they seem to pile up along with the lump in my throat. Whether in a letter or in person and am kicking myself for not saying so- sooner.

One experience was from the month of June when one little girl on J's baseball team, who barely could hold a bat, hit the ball. She came from a difficult situation and to see that made me simply think of hope and it epitomized life. She was ecstatic and so was I that she hit the ball! For some reason I had made a mental note to share this with Mrs. Claus thinking it would bring a smile to her face. But I didn't.

For myself, it seemed important to know that life continued in a joyous way just as simultaneously as the winding down moments in others' lives. That the cycle was repetitive and continues. Life doesn't end with death and either does that joy. Maybe Mrs. Clause already knows this.

I want to hug my neighbor and thank her for the talks over the fence while I weeded my garden, her bright cheery laughter and advice for me when I had concerns about Jaden. I want her to know that we will take care of Santa for her when he needs a good homemade chili or the Rhubarb juice that I made up a few summers ago and shared with them that they liked so much.

The vision of them both dressed up as the Claus will stick with me and Jaden throughout our lives. They brought a lot of memories. But another image that will stick with me, or does so more right now, is that of him taking care of her.

On some of my walks I would look up into the window when I passed by their house. to see how she was doing. They left the curtains open, always had a warm glowing light from the lamp on and you could see Mrs. Claus on the couch, Santa close by in his recliner. This was always comforting to me. That even though something as scary as cancer, losing your hair and death could be bound up in love.

That is how it is supposed to be in life- that we take care of one another. And I hope I can remember that.

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